Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Vampire Diaries: Seven Reasons I Quit Giving Any Fucks

1. Basically, I was watching the wrong show and holding my breath.

To clarify: I've been familiar with the book series since I was twelve (well, as "familiar" as any twelve-year-old who spends an inordinate amount of time at the local library will be familiar with any and all paperbacks just from reading the back covers) and, even to my twelve-year-old brain, it sounded stupid. Book!Elena eventually dies, then comes back as a vampire, then dies again, then comes back as an angel with different sets of wings that do different sorts of magic. Also, Bonnie and Damon hook up.

When I finally decided to give the show half a chance, it was purely because I happened to find out that the main character's best friend is a witch.

So, what with me being me and all, I really wanted the show to be more like The Witch Journals or The Magical Misadventures of Bonnie Bennett. It . . . isn't. The cold difficult fact of the matter is that this show exists because The CW wanted to cash in on the enormous popularity of Twilight (which, for reasons that should be obvious, I find appalling).

In retrospect, I guess I always knew the whole "oh, but the main character's best friend is a witch!" thing wasn't ever going to be enough, no matter how hard I hoped.

Not that I'm bitter.

2. The finale's "shocking Salvatore secret" . . . is shit, shit, shit.

Despite having heaps of potential, season four sucked (ha-ha, vampire joke) for a lot of reasons that were incredibly frustrating (Bonnie is still not allowed to do anything even though various characters start spouting off about how she could easily become the most powerful witch alive; Caroline is stuck in the middle of a bloody awful love triangle; Caroline is never allowed to kick any ass; the sire bond; Misery Porn), but the most what-the-fuck was the reveal that Stefan is actually a doppelganger of Silas. This had never even been hinted at until the last five minutes of the season, and it makes me want to vomit for two reasons:

a) Stefan was and is and always will be, hands-down, one of the most boring characters on this show. That's not my opinion, that's SCIENCE.

b) Of the three main actors, Paul Wesley is definitely, absolutely, incontrovertibly the very worst. He's successful because he has a classically handsome face and, well, let's just say it, he is ripped. He would make an excellent model (or, even more excellent, a gay-for-pay porn star), but his co-stars are extreme examples of how to be ridiculously hot AND have spooky amounts of acting ability (Nina Dobrev is probably the most stunning; one expects she'll go on to be the biggest star after the show is finally over, while some of the others fade into obscurity), and, completely unintentionally, they make him look bad every single week. That sounds really harsh, but you know I'm right.

3. The Perpetual Love Triangle That Goes On and On Forever Without Ever Really Getting Resolved

For some asinine reason, the "heart" of the show has always been the fucked-up whatever that's going on between Elena, Stefan, and Damon. After four years (though only two have passed in-universe), this is still the case.

All I'm saying is, the show would be a lot better if the "main" characters were Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline. This seems so obvious to me that I don't even know how to talk about it.

I guess part of the problem is that I've never been a huge fan of love triangles. You're lucky enough to have TWO incredibly gorgeous guys who are hopelessly in love with you, and you can't shut up and pick one? Whatever, go get torn apart by panthers or something. We have no use for you here in Ryanville.

Also, it would make too much sense if she told both of them to leave her alone and let her figure things out on her own for a bit. This would make even more sense now that she is finally adjusting to being a vampire without eating people or doing whatever Damon tells her.

4. The Rise and Fall of Caroline Forbes


In season one, although she did make us want to give her a hug sometimes (Candice Accola has an uncanny ability to make her audience cry like little bitches, which the writers wisely utilized as early as the very first episode), she was kind of a rude, insensitive, vapid, tacky, clingy, jealous bitch - so much so that you honestly wondered why Elena and Bonnie were still friends with her.

In season two, defying all logic, she became a vampire and . . . turned into a better person. A much better person. She blazed through her transition ("transition" can be read as a nice way of saying "learning how to be a terrifying nightmare monster who must drink blood to survive, but does not actually go around eating people") faster than any other vampire in the history of the show; she used her newfound strength & speed to rearrange the face of anyone who looked at her friends the wrong way; she almost made Tyler interesting; and, most importantly, less than twenty-four hours after being turned, she kicked the crap out of Damon (more on that in a minute).

These days, all she's allowed to do is . . . be in the middle of a love triangle between Tyler (boooooooooooooring) and Klaus (who, as "the oldest vampire in the history of time," has single-handedly killed more people than Hitler). Unless I am very much mistaken, the last time she kicked any ass was in the fourth episode of season three ("I'm stronger than you, little girl!"/"Well, I'm angrier!").

And hey, speaking of Caroline's wasted potential . . .

5. Rape is totally okay if the guy gets away with it because he can use his superpowers to make you forget it ever happened.

Yes, rape.

In season one, back when she was still human, Caroline had sex with Damon.

I'm sorry, that's misleading. Damon used her, pure and simple. He compelled the fuck out of her (literally) because he was lonely and horny. This is despicable enough, but he also turned her into a spy and an errand girl, and (of course) fed on her whenever he felt like it. On one of the v-e-r-y rare occasions when they were together and she seemed to know what was going on, she asked him (in her most pitiable voice), "Are you going to kill me?"

His response was, "Not yet."


When she turned, the very first thing she did with her vamp strength was find him, kick him down the hall, and coldly explain that she remembered everything he had ever done to her and he couldn't touch her ever again.

A few episodes later, all is apparently forgiven.

He doesn't ask for forgiveness, she doesn't offer forgiveness, they're just kind of inexplicably chums now because, you know, they're both part of the gang.

Neither of them ever discuss this with any other characters, so it is perhaps understandable that no one tears him a new one on her behalf. But seriously, the writers - who have apparently expected the audience to worship him since word one simply because, you know, All Girls Want Bad Boys - could have done A LOT with this story, instead of just letting it fade away.

P.S. Caroline celebrated her eighteenth birthday in season three.

6. Racism?

Okay, I am not saying Julie Plec (co-creator, who has been sole showrunner for the last two years, I think) missed her calling as a recruiter for the KKK, but let's think about this for half a second:

Point to any black character on the show. Light-skinned, dark-skinned, major player, bit part, any black character at all. Chances are, that character is a) a witch who is b) related to Bonnie and will c) die horribly. There are occasionally black characters who are not related to Bonnie, but they inevitably get killed off before we have half a chance to get to know them. In four years, the show has introduced two black characters who were allowed to survive: Lucy, who only appeared in one episode despite promising Bonnie that they'd meet again soon, and Bonnie's dad, who . . . well, let's just say his impact on the plot is so small that I can't remember his name. (Elena and Jeremy's parents, who die before the show starts, are Miranda and Grayson. I did not have to look that up.)

It's especially frustrating because most black characters are witches. So it makes absolutely no sense for them to get killed, ever, since - and I say this with no exaggeration - they are the most powerful people on the show: Even if you ignore everything else they can do (not to mention the fact that vampires and werewolves wouldn't exist without them), there is no getting around the fact that all witches can move things with their minds. Bonnie gets the hang of this faster than any other sort of magic; merely by walking into the scene, any and all physical confrontations should instantly end in her favor. Damon's threatening to eat somebody? Nope, Damon can't move. Everybody go home. Klaus is ruining people's lives again? Nope, Klaus is stuck to the ceiling. Everybody go home. Elena is trying to bite Bonnie because Stefan asked Damon to turn her into a psycho-bitch? Nope, Elena is writhing around on the ground- oh wait, THAT ONE ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

And yet, one after another after another, witches get themselves killed in horribly horrible ways because they forget about their own powers. Despite her status as a main character, despite the fact that every storyline she's ever been given has had something to do with being a witch, despite finding out that she might be the most powerful witch in the whole wide world, Bonnie is never actually allowed to use magic unless it will explicitly help Elena or Jeremy or one of the other (white) main characters.

It makes me sick.

And hey, speaking of Bonnie . . .


In retrospect, I suppose it was inevitable.

The thing is, she's not "just" my favorite character. It really does seem to me that she should have been the show's hero. Why does it seem that way, you ask? Well, it's simple . . .

a) She is the ONLY human character who finds out that vampires are real and thinks it might be a good idea to kill them before they kill everyone in town.

b) Even before anyone starts up with the "most powerful witch alive" stuff, the simple fact of being a witch makes her the only character who can reasonably be expected to protect the town from vampires.
- When Klaus shows up, the best plan that anyone can come up with basically boils down to "get out of the way and let Bonnie do some witchcraft in his general direction."

c) Her mentor teaches her everything she needs to know about the basics of her own power, then dies. This is a trope for a reason.

d) Her first name is Bonnie. Her last name is Bennett. (Note that her last name was McCullough in the books, where she was neither a witch nor the only person of color in town.) So, etymologically speaking, she's a good person who has been blessed.

And yet, when she finally decides to make magic work for her, rather than the other way around (we all knew her "I am done getting pushed around by all of you" moment in the season three finale wasn't going to last), it fucking kills her.

Which would be bad enough, but she did it to resurrect her (white) ex-boyfriend who cheated on her.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love Jeremy Gilbert. Really and truly and forever (er, I love him in a fictional character sort of way, not a "we should hold hands and go to the movies" way) (although I would totally hold hands and go to the movies with Steven R. McQueen, absolutely) (especially if holding hands and going to the movies was code for getting naked). His relationship with Elena was the first thing about the show to make me go from "it can't be a complete waste of time if the main character's best friend is a witch" to "alright, this is some good catharsis right here" to "these people could easily become some of my favorite fictional characters ever," and watching them team up to kill Kol was one of the best parts of this season.

But the fact remains that he died a natural death. And the other fact remains that this is a show with "vampire" in the title. The writers could've invented any way to bring him back (which I don't think they should have done, as the episode right after his death, in which Elena slowly comes to accept that he's actually dead, was the best episode of the season, and possibly the best episode of the series - to reiterate my earlier point, Nina Dobrev brought it) . . . but no, they decided to kill their hero.

Of course, Bonnie isn't "really" dead, is she? Kat Graham is still supposed to be a main cast member next season, she'll just be a ghost! And hey, thanks to Bonnie Jeremy can talk to ghosts, so it's not like she'll be totally lonely, right?

The problem with this is that, as much as we all love him, as much as there's no denying that they clearly still care about each other even after their breakup, as much as they've both had zero romantic tension with anyone else all season, Jeremy is the ex-boyfriend who cheated on her (with another ghost, ironically).

So, intentionally or otherwise, the message that we can gather from The Vampire Diaries is that, as a person of color, even if you have enough potential to fill the Grand Canyon, the most heroic thing you can do, ever, is sacrifice yourself so a white boy can live.

I know, that sounds kind of extreme. But seriously, shut up and re-read Reason 6 and tell me I'm wrong. Tell me this show hasn't been subtly racist since it started. Tell me Bonnie wasn't supposed to be the hero. Tell me she had to die. Go on and tell me.

So yes, in a nutshell, this one reason is why I have to stop watching the show.

No comments:

Post a Comment